Five US organizations linked to Hindu and Hindu supremacist groups have received COVID-19 relief funding in the amount of $ 833,000, revealed report by Al-Jazeera.
Al-Jazeera cited data released by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a federal agency that helps small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The SBA disbursed the funds under the Economic Disaster Loan Advance (EIDLA) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES), the Assistance Loan in Disaster Event (DAL) and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
All of these programs aim to provide financial assistance to businesses to keep their workforce employed during the pandemic.
The five groups in question are Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHPA), Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation, Infinity Foundation, Sewa International and Hindu American Foundation (HAF). All of these organizations have links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
VHPA has received over $ 150,000 under the PPP and $ 21,430 under the EIDLA and DAL programs. Its Indian counterpart, VHP was classified as a militant religious organization by the CIA in 2018.
Although the VHPA claims to be a separate legal entity from the VHP, its website mentions that the organizations share “the same values and ideals.”
The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation obtained a direct salary of $ 7,000 and a loan of $ 64,462 in PPP.
The Foundation operates a network of schools for children from Adivasi and rural communities across India, and has been accused of promoting hatred of minorities among children.
The Infinity Foundation received $ 51,872 in U.S. federal funds as a result of the pandemic, according to SBA data.
This foundation grants grants to universities and researchers to allow the dissemination of Hindu nationalism in academic spaces.
Sewa International has received $ 150,621 in COVID relief.
The Sewa International organization funds many RSS projects across India. In fact, some ancient documents suggest that Sewa International’s address was the same as RSS’s headquarters in Delhi.
The Hindu American Foundation received what can be said to be the lion’s share of federal funds among the five organizations – a whopping $ 378,064 in PPP loans and an additional $ 10,000 in EIDLA.
The HAF is pushing to deflect any criticism of the Modi government’s policies on Capitol Hill, most recently its vehement defense of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and India’s removal of the special constitutional status of Indian-administered Kashmir.
HAF has open links to RSS, although it claims to be “non-partisan”.
Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of New York-based Hindus for Human Rights, told Al-Jazeera: “All of these organizations support Hindu supremacist ideology. Their parent organizations continue to spread hatred in Hindu communities towards Muslims and Christians. She is concerned that the COVID relief funds will be used for the same thing.
RSS receiving funds and support from foreign organizations and pressure groups is a common phenomenon. A 2014 South Asian Citizen Web (SACW) report found that US-based charities were sending millions of dollars to organizations affiliated with RSS.
Ironically enough, RSS and its affiliates in India, commonly referred to as the Sangh Parivar, often accuse its critics and detractors of being “foreign-funded agents who attempt to defame Hinduism and destroy India.”“